T own officials learned last week that their bid for a $400,000 grant was denied and that decision didn’t sit well with one local official.
“It’s hard to believe that when you talk about bringing five entities into one building that it wouldn’t warrant some consideration,” said supervisor George Armstrong. “We never expected full value but we expected we would receive something because of consolidation.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that $4 million was awarded to 21 municipalities to help reduce local government costs and save taxpayer dollars.
“It appears schools and police departments were the big winners. We were talking about moving our department from a poorly located decrepit building to a centrally located building and none of that translates to the state thinking we needed money to get it done,” Armstrong said.
In May, the town and village applied for a $400,000 local government efficiency grant to help facilitate the creation of the Whitehall Municipal Center.
The town has already spent more than $40,000 renovating the former Skenesborough Firehouse and turning it into a multiuse building.
The town moved into the municipal center last week and the town and village courts haven taken steps in that direction, applying for a grant to cover costs associated with a move.
Town and village officials have also discussed moving the Whitehall Police Department into the building and have at least entertained the possibility of the village making the move as well.
The fallout of the grant denial and what it means for the entities who were considering a move is unclear, but it may affect how the town deals with the state moving forward.
“I’m extremely disappointed and whether we have a partnership with the state is questionable,” said Armstrong, who said the town pays to maintain the state-owned Canal Corp. Visitors Center and dikes along the Champlain Canal.
According to the state department’s website, local government efficiency grants are “competitive grants to local governments that help reduce municipal expenses and property taxes by helping local government entities plan for and implement new service delivery efficiencies.”
Of the 21 entities that received grant money, nine were for studies that looked at consolidation, reorganization or dissolution.
In the region, Ticonderoga and Crown Point Central School districts received a $45,000 grant to study reorganization. Albany County received $67,500 to study shared highway services and Capital Region BOCES received $434,170 for a municipal prescription drug purchasing coalition.